Brittney Griner was targeted in a “calculated confrontation” by a “social media figure and provocateur” Saturday as her WNBA team the Phoenix Mercury traveled through the Dallas Airport.

The WNBA released a statement Saturday acknowledging the “incident” without providing any details about what occurred. Griner, a Houston native who starred at Baylor University, was back playing in Texas (versus the Dallas Wings) Friday for the first time since her release from Russian detainment in Dec. 2022.

“As we gather information about today’s incident at the Dallas Airport, it has come to our attention that this was orchestrated by a social media figure and provocateur,” the WNBA said. “This actions were inappropriate and unfortunate.”

(While the league didn’t specify who the “social media figure” was, someone associated with the right-wing media company The Blaze has already claimed credit on social media.)

Griner has become the focus of online attacks in the aftermath of her Russian imprisonment on drug charges and subsequent release as part of a prisoner exchange for an arms dealer dubbed “The Merchant of Death.”

Griner’s Mercury teammate Brianna Turner tweeted, “Player safety while traveling should be at the forefront. People following with cameras saying wild remarks is never acceptable. Excessive harassment. Our team nervously huddled in a corner unsure how to move about. We demand better.”

The league continued, “The safety of Brittney Griner and all WNBA players is our top priority. Prior to the season, the WNBA worked together with the Phoenix Mercury and BG’s team to ensure her safety during her travel, which included charter flights for WNBA games and assigned security personnel with her at all times. We remain steadfastly committed to the highest standards of security for players.”

However, in a statement Saturday, the WNBA Players Association criticized the league for not instituting charter flights for all travel; charter travel is currently deemed by the league as a  “competitive advantage.” 


“Every commercial flight forced upon our players is a threat to their health and safety. We implore the league and the teams not to wait another day to change the rule regarding travel,” the WNBPA said in a statement.

“What BG and all of her PHX teammates experienced today was a calculated confrontation that left them feeling very unsafe. Everyone who was paying attention knew this would happen. We could have and should have been more proactive.”